At the Moscow Raceway, the Spaniard dominated Pierre Gasly and Richie Stanaway, who claimed his first podium result in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series.
Back in open-wheel competition this year, Roberto Merhi gave his team Zeta Corse a day to remember on home soil with a first pole position and victory, as well as the fastest lap in the race. At the Moscow Raceway, the Spaniard dominated Pierre Gasly (Arden Motorsport) and Richie Stanaway (Lotus), who claimed his first podium result in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series. Starting 11th, Carlos Sainz (DAMS) limited the damage by moving up five places, but the championship leader is now just 33 points ahead of Pierre Gasly.
The Russian team Zeta Corse obtained its maiden pole position in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series at home thanks to Roberto Merhi. The Spaniard also took his first pole and lined up on the grid ahead of Richie Stanaway, Pierre Gasly and the Fortec Motorsports entries of Oliver Rowland and Sergey Sirotkin.
Roberto Merhi was the quickest off the line, while Richie Stanaway was overtaken by Pierre Gasly and Oliver Rowland. But the Lotus driver retook third place before pressuring the Frenchman. Sergey Sirotkin also got around his team-mate for fourth place. At the end of the opening lap, Roberto Merhi had already built a more than three-second gap to his pursuers.
On lap five, Carlos Sainz was the first to make the mandatory pit stop. The race leaders preferred to wait until the final laps of the pit window to change their tyres, but while the different strategies didn’t change the top five order it did close the gaps. Carlos Sainz’s tactic paid off the most because his early stop allowed him to move up to sixth place.
As the laps ticked off, Roberto Merhi picked up the pace to pull away and take his first triumph ahead of Pierre Gasly and Richie Stanaway. The Fortec Motorsports cars of Sergey Sirotkin and Oliver Rowland finished fourth and fifth ahead of Carlos Sainz, who made up five positions after starting 11th on the grid. Matias Laine (Strakka Racing), Zoel Amberg (AVF), Will Stevens (Strakka Racing) and William Buller (Arden Motorsport) complete the list of point scorers.
Roberto Merhi: ”A perfect day! I won the pole and then put in a good start. I made a small error before my pit stop; I was surprised to see Pierre so close! I managed to widen the gap and I am proud to offer this first win to my team on home soil. This rewards the huge effort we have made since the start of the season.”
Pierre Gasly: ”I couldn’t do more. I got a good start before having a hard opening lap battling with Richie. I pushed to catch Roberto, but we didn’t have the pace needed to race for the win. This makes up for yesterday’s frustration where I remained blocked on the grid, but I will try to do even better at the Nürburgring! ”
Richie Stanaway: ”I didn’t get the best start, but I tried to pressure Pierre because I felt that my tyres were more up to temperature. Alas, it didn’t work. I tried to do the best I could with a good strategy, but I lacked just a bit of performance. I don’t know if I will be at the Nürburgring, it depends on Matthieu Vaxivière’s recovery!”
Provisional General Classification (*) : 1. C. Sainz – 132 points, 2. P. Gasly – 99, 3. O. Rowland – 84, 4. W. Stevens – 78, 5. R. Merhi – 75, …
(*) Subject to confirmation of the results following the technical and sporting verifications.